A Cathedral Resurrected

St Andrews Cathedral East End

The east end of St Andrew’s Cathedral, where the altar would have been located. The square tower is all that remains of a smaller chapel of St Rule.

St Andrews is a town with its own striking skyline. The steeple of the university chapel, the jagged tooth-shaped stump of the castle walls, and the clubhouses ringing the golf-course all give the town a distinctive sense of place. The undeniable jewel in the crown, however, is the ruined cathedral. Built during the twelfth century, the cathedral served as the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland, presiding over parliaments and coordinating Christian life throughout the realm.

The one surviving tower of the west processional entrance, with windows along the ruined nave.

This same preeminence, however, endangered it during the turbulent Scottish Reformation, when it was abandoned as a place of worship and its stones were reused. Now, its empty windows and grand processional entrance are in ruins–making it an attractive prospect for photographers, but also making it difficult for us to envision the building in its prime.

Cathedral in snow

Even after it fell out of use as a place of worship, the Cathedral still functioned as a cemetery. Most of the graves date from the 1700-1800s (older stonework is now preserved indoors, in the onsite museum.)

Now, however, collaborative work within the University is rebuilding the cathedral in all it’s glory! A team of art historians, computer programmers, and graphic designers are modelling a digital version of the building in it’s twelfth century heyday.

The digital model being constructed of the St Andrews Cathedral, in wire frame.

To learn more about the aims of the project and the people involved, check out the Special Collections Blog of the St Andrews University Library, and stay tuned! ‘Time travel’ of a sort may make a visit to the original cathedral possible sooner than you think!

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